Mobile Operating Systems - Statistics & Facts

A mobile operating system (mobile OS) is the software that manages smartphones, tablets, and other devices that can be used while on the move. Aside from the physical design of the handset itself, the mobile OS is responsible for the way users interact with a device. This includes the look and feel, overall design, and functionality, with each of these elements crucial to ensuring a positive user experience.

Google’s Android system and Apple’s iOS are the most used smartphone operating systems worldwide, by a considerable margin. Much of Android’s success can be attributed to its commitment to openness, it was established as an open-source platform in 2007. Many smartphone vendors – such as global smartphone giant Samsung – take the opportunity to use the freely available software, resulting in Android possessing a far greater share of the global market. Apple’s iOS is a closed-source platform and runs exclusively on its iPhones and iPads. Its share of the smartphone operating systems market continues to decline around the world, but strong relationships with existing customers have been formed through the brand – particularly in the United States – and loyalty to the iPhone is proving valuable in terms of Apple’s revenue.

Mobile OS updates are released constantly, mostly deployed directly to device owners without the need to connect to a computer. OS updates providing upgrades in terms of functionality, security, and overall stability, and ensure a common standard to which developers can create apps. The vast majority of iPhone users have installed the latest version of iOS, but the schedule of Android updates varies by device, manufacturer, and mobile carrier, meaning many users are not running the most up-to-date version of Android. The latest software developments from both Google (Android 10) and Apple (iOS 13) were released in the fall of 2019.

The mobile OS market has not always been dominated by Android and iOS; Symbian and RIM were major competitors as recently as 2009. Symbian software most notably ran on devices manufactured by Nokia, while RIM (Research In Motion) operated on the popular BlackBerry devices. However, both were slow to react to the increasing importance of software operating systems, allowing Android and iOS to capitalize and their innovative technology has paved the way for the market we have today.

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Mobile operating systems

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Android OS share

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